Residents of the Parkrose area can chime in on a community plan designed to address a number of area issues, from job creation to pedestrian safety on Sandy Boulevard. You can share your thoughts on the Draft Parkrose Community Plan by taking this survey, through April 30, at surveymonkey.com/r/parkroseplan
With the support of the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Oregon Department of Transportation, the neighborhood prosperity initiative Historic Parkrose created the Parkrose Community Plan with extensive input gathered over the past year from various community members. (The full draft is available to download from BPS.)
Issues discussed during an April 9 online forum about the plan’s draft included improving pedestrian safety on and around Sandy Boulevard, creating a workforce development center to help job-seekers, and helping residents create home-based businesses. City officials stressed that the plan is a guidebook, not a mandate, something the plan itself makes clear.
“This is the community’s plan and highlights actions they would like to see happen, but most of the actions are not funded and have not been approved by City decision-makers or implementing agencies, the draft reads. “Moving forward, the role of the plan will be as a resource for community advocacy, action, and partnership building. Ultimately, it will be up to the Parkrose community to advocate and organize to make these actions a reality.”
Months in the making
Plan organizers hosted several public discussions on the plan in 2021, and the draft was created with input from a number of neighborhood residents including teenagers. The plan’s promoters note a final draft should be completed in June.
The plan notes five Community Working Groups (CWGs) met during the second half of 2021, organized around five major topics: Housing and Displacement, Jobs and Small Businesses, Transportation, Community Spaces and Access to Nature, and Emergency Preparedness.
“Each CWG focused on one of these topic areas and was responsible for considering community input, discussing issues and opportunities, and making recommendations on solutions and implementing actions,” the plan reads.
In an online discussion on April 9, representatives from Historic Parkrose and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability said that the plan was created with a particular focus on issues that concern people of color, including the fact a number have been displaced by increasing housing costs in Parkrose. The plan also takes into account the challenges homeless young people face in the area.
On its website, Historic Parkrose notes the plan addresses the fact Parkrose both reflects the greater Portland area as well as diverges from the trends impacting it.
“The Parkrose area has historically mirrored East Portland demographics, with a population that is more diverse, has more families, and is less wealthy than the city as a whole,” the plan reads. “With major shifts citywide from a working-class to middle-class city, Parkrose is increasingly following citywide trends. Around 2015, families in the Parkrose School District started getting displaced from the area. Similarly, based on 2010 to 2019 census data, the population of communities of color fell from 43 percent to 35 percent of the area’s population, with a 36 percent drop in the numbers of children and youth in the area.”
During the online meeting, Dwight Jefferson, a Portland city planner, noted “Parkrose is becoming less affordable for about everybody who lives there … As rents are increasing, the vacancy rates are decreasing.”
Historic Parkrose makes a similar point on its PCP page. “As lower-income families have been uprooted from the neighborhood, there’s also been an increase in homeowners versus renters,” it states. “Parkrose home prices have increased faster over the past 10 years than the city as a whole, with the median single-family home price in the area rising 68 percent between 2010 and 2020 (compared to a 56 percent increase citywide). As housing costs are usually the highest household budget item, overall city rent increases impact working poor communities, which most impact historically marginalized communities of color.”
Issues of concern
The PCP identifies the following issues the community believes need to be addressed:
Housing affordability and displacement
“The cost of homes in Parkrose has been rising faster than Portland as a whole (increasing by 68 percent over the past 10 years),” the draft states. “During the same period, Parkrose has been losing many from its communities of color, with the percentage of people of color declining from 43 to 35 percent (the Black population declined especially steeply, from 16 to 7 percent).”
“Nearly 9 percent of Parkrose High School students were homeless during the 2021-22 school year.”
Incomes and economic opportunity
“The median household income in Parkrose is $15,000 less than Portland as a whole, and median incomes for Black and Hispanic households are more than $30,000 less,” the plan states. “This is despite the proximity of the many well-paying jobs in the nearby Columbia Corridor employment district.”
Sandy Boulevard safety
“Sandy Boulevard is designated as a high-crash street, with over 300 crashes reported over a recent five-year period – the majority of serious injuries involved people walking.”
“Most local streets lack sidewalks and there are few bike facilities, limiting people’s ability to feel safe walking or bicycling to local destinations such as schools and businesses.”
Community spaces and nature
“Half of Parkrose residents live more than a half-mile from a public park and there is no improved access to a natural area.”
“The Parkrose neighborhood is bounded on three sides by freeways and the Columbia River with few connections through these barriers, potentially limiting the ability to access emergency services in the event of a major disaster,” the plan reads. “Many community members don’t know what emergency resources are available locally or how to access them.”
The PCP calls for the community to take steps to address these issues with the following proposed actions, as well as principles the community should advance.
Affordable Housing and Displacement Prevention
- Create more affordable housing options, including family housing, that meet the needs of Parkrose’s diverse households and communities.
- All Parkrose residents should be able to choose to remain in their neighborhood in healthy housing they can afford.
Access to Jobs
- Connect youth, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to training, jobs, and careers that serve as pathways to prosperity.
- Connect Parkrose residents to nearby job opportunities in the Columbia Corridor and elsewhere and to career paths that lead to middle-wage employment.
Home-Based Businesses and Small Businesses
- Support Parkrose residents in starting and growing home-based businesses.
- Support a thriving Historic Parkrose business district that serves the area’s diverse communities and provides opportunities for local businesses to grow.
Sandy Boulevard Safety
- Make Sandy Boulevard a safe place to walk, travel, and do business through safe and convenient pedestrian crossings, improved intersections, better lighting, and other safety improvements.
- Enhance Sandy Boulevard as a great place to get around by transit by improving transit service and bus stop locations and amenities.
Neighborhood Transportation Needs
- Make it safer and easier for people to walk and bicycle to community destinations.
- Foster connections to nature through more trees and green elements and improve the Columbia Slough as a natural area that is accessible to the community.
- Foster Parkrose as a resilient community that is prepared for extreme weather, earthquakes, and other emergencies.
- Connect Parkrose community members to emergency information and resources, in ways that are accessible to people in a diversity of languages.
Freelance writer Rob Cullivan wrote this story!